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Female Entrepreneurship

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for the Status of Women a question regarding female entrepreneurship.

Leave granted.

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: I refer the minister to some research found in Regus, which is a global workplace provider. It found that, while 77 per cent of Australian businesses reported an increase in all types of entrepreneurship over the past five years, only 11 per cent saw a rise among female entrepreneurs. Regus Australian New Zealand chief executive, Paul Migliorini, commented that we will not see more female participation unless the country supports it. My question to the minister is: can the minister advise what policy initiatives have been implemented to address proportionate lack of female entrepreneurship in the South Australian business community?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:34 :14 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. Indeed, he has touched on an issue that is an incredibly challenging one and a very serious one.

We see gender disparity in representation at just about all levels of our society, particularly in relation to senior positions, executive positions and positions generally of power and those that are the most well paid. We see that disparity right throughout, and this government has worked very hard to put in place a series of strategies, including the women’s policy I released not so long ago.

Entrepreneurism is indeed an important pathway for women to enter the workforce and in particular for women to develop their own businesses and enter into the corporate world. There are many things that we have been involved in to assist women into leadership positions, including in the last number of years in a row funding 25 scholarships a year for women to participate in leadership development. That certainly would assist women in gaining entrepreneurial skills. That is one area.

Another that I mentioned just recently, just this week, is the Adelaide Smart City Studio, which was launched at the end of November. That is about developing Adelaide’s status as a clever city. The studio is about following tech giant Cisco’s declaring Adelaide as the first smart and connected ‘lighthouse city’ in Australia earlier this year. It is about allowing or encouraging likeminded people to work together in the space of the Internet of Things. We know that the Internet of Things is an area that offers enormous business development into the future. That was an initiative that was launched most recently.

We continue to encourage women in that way. STEM is another area that we very much encourage women to work and study in, because we know that they are about the jobs of the future and we know that women’s participation in those fields has been very low in the past, so we have a number of initiatives in that area as well.

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